Runners are notorious for talking about how fast they are, so I could really relate to Lifehacker’s Patrick Allen’s example of how a runner should best brag about himself: compare his speed or race time with a previous finish and not with another runner’s time.
Cognitive Psychologist, Carolien Van Damme, whose study Allen’s reporting on, found that relaying your accomplishments is most well received when you don’t set them up as superior to someone else’s. Brag about yourself as it relates to you and only you, and no one’ll think you’re a big jerk.
Like so many communication strategies, there’s an art form to boasting of your achievements. The key is not to compare yourself with others. Sure, you may have made the biggest sale of the quarter, but instead of pointing out how you surpassed Kerry’s and Joshua’s sales, you’re better off noting how this quarter is your best yet!
If you call attention to your strides without inadvertently putting anyone else down in the process, people are going to be far more likely to pat you on the back for a job well done than if you’re essentially asking them to discredit a person based on your efforts.
Of course, you want to be careful how often you point out your wins too. If you do it at every turn, that praise and recognition you’re seeking is likely to be less forthcoming. Choose which moments you want to highlight, and be careful not to exaggerate.
So, to recap: Humblebragging works best if you’re not constantly asking people for their admiration, and you’re not expecting them to lift you up by thinking less of someone else’s accomplishments.